Breast is...da bomb dot com!

Went to visit my dear friend Hannah yesterday and presented her with this stash-busting dishtowel. In case you don't recognize it, this is the international symbol for breastfeeding advocacy. Hannah tandem nurses her 4 and almost 2 year old kids and is an active member in the local La Lache League community. She has educated me a great deal over the past few years about the profound value of breastmilk, the medical and anthropological basis for "extended" breastfeeding (which I like to now call full-term breastfeeding or child-led weaning), and the social stigma against which nursing mothers fight every day. This symbol, when seen in windows of stores or restaurants, indicates the management's commitment to a breastfeeding-friendly environment.

So many women, while trying to provide the maximum nutrition and comfort to their babies and toddlers, are shamed into hot parking lots or cramped bathrooms when a brief feeding becomes unavoidable. All too often, if they venture to a nearby bench to quickly soothe and nurse, they're rewarded with stares, glares, and eye-rolls; some are even asked by employees to quit "exposing themselves." On the other hand, whip out a bottle full of formula, and nobody's feathers are ruffled. It's no wonder that so many women find this discrimination exhausting. Despite the fact that both the American Pediatric Association and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for AT LEAST one year and as long thereafter as desired by mother and child, only 21% of American women are still breastfeeding their babies at 12 months.

Some of that pathetic number can be attributed to lack of education and poverty (e.g. working mothers need to pump to keep up their supply), but many women claim that it simply becomes too inconvenient to continue. Anything we can do as a society to support mothers in this goal is well-worth it in the long run.

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